Parking charges: reaction from the Friends of Richmond Park

Margaret Hodge, the Minister for Culture and Tourism, announced today that she will go ahead with parking charges in Richmond Park later this year. The final scheme is effectively the same as originally proposed, the only modification being that there will be no 6-hour maximum stay.
The Friends is disappointed with the announcement. We are not against parking charges in principle (in our own consultation among our members, 43% of the 400 members who responded were in favour of charges, 57% against). However, we have significant concerns with the scheme being introduced:

  • The rates are too high and the cost will be prohibitive for many people – up to £1,000 a year for dog walkers who come to the Park twice a day. We proposed a low-cost season ticket for regular Park users; this idea has been ignored.
  • There will be a large increase in parking in those surrounding streets where parking is free, which will cause major difficulties for local residents. The research commissioned by the Minister on this does not really tackle the issue.
  • The elimination of a 6-hour maximum stay will encourage commuters to continue parking in the Park for the day; this already happens at Pembroke Lodge car park – and now at Kingston Gate car park by hospital workers since Kingston Council extended their CPZ in November to cover the roads next to the gate.

The proposal does tackle the major problem of congestion in the car parks at peak periods (summer weekends and bank holidays) but only by penalising users of the Park at non-congested times. We think it would have been much better to have charges only for those peak times.
The announcement also promises a review of the feasibility of a land train in Richmond Park, but people still have to come to the Park by car. We think that there should also be a review of ways of improving public transport to the Park, so that visitors would not have to come by car.
The Friends of Bushy Park have proposed a toll on through traffic as an alternative to parking charges. We are currently reviewing this idea to understand its implications, and have asked our members for their views.